Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Here’s something nice I’d never heard about

Martin Arthur Couney was a man who claimed to be a trained medical doctor and turned premature babies into sideshow attractions, and by doing so he saved the lives of over 6,000 of them.

This is an answer to the Quora question: Who’s someone no one has ever heard of, but who saved many lives?

Martin Arthur Couney was a German-Jewish immigrant who moved to the US around 1903, realized that hospitals weren’t using incubators for preemie babies, and started a “sideshow” of preemie babies in incubators. He charged 25 cents for people to come into his spotless wards and look at the babies. People would come back over and over to look at their favorite babies, apparently, no doubt rooting for them to thrive. Which many did. Courney used the money that came in via admittance fees for the “sideshow” to pay wetnurses and regular nurses and thereby saved a whole bunch of babies that would otherwise have died.

So … I had no idea. That’s really neat! Click through and read the post if you have time. What a guy Martin Arthur Couney was! What an odd set of skills must have come together in this person, for him to set something like that up and then maintain it against all kinds of opposition until hospitals started handling premature babies more effectively.

This reminds me of another person who saved a lot of lives but isn’t all that well known — Paul Brand. I read a biography of him once and was so impressed because his work, and that of his wife, basically turned leprosy from A Curse That Destroyed Your Life into a disease that could be effectively treated. Let me see. Oh, yes, the book I read was The Gift of Pain. A very worthwhile book.

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